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In The Dark Knight, Harvey Dent, the highly praised mayor who gradually transforms into city menace “Two-Face” states in his time of despair:

“You either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain.”

Penn State’s Joe Paterno, a name that has been held in the highest regard for the past 46 years, was not only a great football coach and humanitarian that loved to give back to his community, but a legend of his time and an inspiration to all.

His strong character showed millions that by following your passions and doing what you love, you will lead a life of happiness and fulfillment. 

Joe, lived, loved, and became the game of football, as well as the father figure to his players and the entire Penn State University and surrounding community. He was the glue of the school that always made Penn State pride themselves on their tight family-like bond.

But, how far was he willing to go to protect a “family member?”

Since details have emerged of the illicit sex scandal that involved his assistant coach Jerry Sandusky, it is hard not to question if Joe Paterno is really the “hero” that many in America are currently mourning.

Yes, he won 409 football games, more than any other NCAA Division I coach in history ever has. But has the reputation of a football team become more important than the lives of young boys who have been stripped of their innocence because of Sandusky and an organization that chose to keep quiet? 

Yes, Joe did take the steps of relaying information of a certain “incident” to the athletic director. But let’s be honest, that’s like a frat brother informing their “Big” that they saw one of their other members raping a girl at a party. What do you think the chances of that making it to the police are? Yeah, not likely.

And anyone who has gone to college knows that unfortunately to be true. If Joe was so honorable, why was that incident not enough for him to move forward with the termination of Sandusky and why would he want a member like that on his staff?

No one can take away what Joe Paterno has done for the game of college football and for the University. However, the people who are so strongly voicing their backlash on Joe’s termination from PSU and how they prematurely initiated the steps to his tragic death, need to re-look at their own moral compasses. 

The problem is, it’s very easy to ignore the behaviors of individuals in power. People so easily stand behind all the good a person has done over the years and dismiss any allegation of bad. It is too unfathomable to believe that their “beloved” Joe could be capable of any involvement of malice or misdoing.

But the fact of the matter is, Joe Paterno has been the head football coach at PSU for over 40 years and he KNEW what was going on and so did the school. And as a man of faith and a father, he should have gone to the police.

To his own admittance he says, “I should have done more.” So should we really praise him in his passing? Is he really so honorable? And is the legacy of a football team really all it takes for an entire nation to blind their eyes to the truth and turn their heads to evil?

Yes, it is sad that someone who has had much success died at an old age in the height of scrutiny. But, no matter how many accolades and praise a person has gained, you never truly know their secrets and what they have been involved in.

A lot of people like to say Joe died not only from cancer, but of a broken heart. But did he? Or did he die of guilt and shame for knowing he took part in the destruction of many young boys’ lives and the downfall of a credited institution? Was he the proclaimed hero he lived his life to be and just got caught up in an unfortunate situation or was he an actual villain in the matter?

Only one at this point knows the answer to that, and that’s God. So, may he rest in peace and let only God judge his soul.

Tara S. 

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